Bailey #725414 v. Woods, No. 2:2014cv00036 - Document 4 (W.D. Mich. 2014)

Court Description: OPINION; signed by Judge Gordon J. Quist (Judge Gordon J. Quist, jmt)
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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN NORTHERN DIVISION QUANTAE DERRILL BAILEY, Petitioner, Case No. 2:14-cv-36 v. Honorable Gordon J. Quist JEFFREY WOODS, Respondent. ____________________________________/ OPINION This is a habeas corpus action brought by a state prisoner under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Promptly after the filing of a petition for habeas corpus, the Court must undertake a preliminary review of the petition to determine whether it plainly appears from the face of the petition and any exhibits annexed to it that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court. Rule 4, RULES GOVERNING § 2254 CASES; see 28 U.S.C. § 2243. If so, the petition must be summarily dismissed. Rule 4; see Allen v. Perini, 424 F.2d 134, 141 (6th Cir. 1970) (district court has the duty to screen out petitions that lack merit on their face). A dismissal under Rule 4 includes those petitions which raise legally frivolous claims, as well as those containing factual allegations that are palpably incredible or false. Carson v. Burke, 178 F.3d 434, 436-37 (6th Cir. 1999). After undertaking the review required by Rule 4, the Court will dismiss the petition without prejudice for failure to exhaust available state-court remedies. Discussion I. Factual allegations Petitioner presently is incarcerated at the Chippewa Correctional Facility. Following a jury trial in the Muskegon County Circuit Court, Petitioner was convicted of armed robbery, MICH . COMP . LAWS § 750.529, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony (felonyfirearm), MICH . COMP . LAWS § 750.227b. On May 31, 2011, the trial court sentenced him as a second habitual offender to imprisonment of twenty-three to forty years for the armed-robbery conviction and two consecutive years for the felony-firearm conviction. The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed Petitioner s convictions in an unpublished opinion issued on September 13, 2012. The Michigan Supreme Court subsequently denied Petitioner s application for leave to appeal on January 25, 2013. On February 1, 2014, Petitioner filed a motion for relief from judgment in the Muskegon County Circuit Court. Petitioner s motion remains pending in the circuit court. (See Pet., docket #1, Page ID#3.) In his application for habeas corpus relief, Petitioner raises the following two grounds for relief: I. PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT IN CLOSING ARGUMENT DENIED [PETITIONER] HIS DUE PROCESS RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL. II. DEFENSE TRIAL COUNSEL WAS CONSTITUTIONALLY INEFFECTIVE IN VIOLATION OF THE SIXTH AMENDMENT BY FAILING TO OBJECT TO THE INSTANCES OF PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT[] IN CLOSING ARGUMENT. (Pet., docket #1, Page ID#6.) Petitioner raised both habeas grounds on direct appeal. In his motion for relief from judgment, Petitioner raises three new issues, which the Court assumes that he intends to raise as additional grounds for habeas corpus relief. (See Pet., docket #1, Page ID#9.) -2- On February 3, 2014, Petitioner filed a motion to stay the proceedings (docket #2). In his motion, Petitioner seeks a stay of these proceedings to file an appeal in the Michigan appellate courts if his motion for relief from judgment is denied in the trial court. (Mot. to Stay, docket #2, Page ID#14). II. Exhaustion of State Court Remedies Before the Court may grant habeas relief to a state prisoner, the prisoner must exhaust remedies available in the state courts. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(1); O Sullivan v. Boerckel, 526 U.S. 838, 842 (1999). Exhaustion requires a petitioner to fairly present federal claims so that state courts have a fair opportunity to apply controlling legal principles to the facts bearing upon a petitioner s constitutional claim. See O Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 842; Picard v. Connor, 404 U.S. 270, 275-77 (1971), cited in Duncan v. Henry, 513 U.S. 364, 365 (1995), and Anderson v. Harless, 459 U.S. 4, 6 (1982). To fulfill the exhaustion requirement, a petitioner must have fairly presented his federal claims to all levels of the state appellate system, including the state s highest court. Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66; Wagner v. Smith, 581 F.3d 410, 414 (6th Cir. 2009); Hafley v. Sowders, 902 F.2d 480, 483 (6th Cir. 1990). [S]tate prisoners must give the state courts one full opportunity to resolve any constitutional issues by invoking one complete round of the State s established appellate review process. O Sullivan, 526 U.S. at 845. The district court can and must raise the exhaustion issue sua sponte when it clearly appears that habeas claims have not been presented to the state courts. See Prather v. Rees, 822 F.2d 1418, 1422 (6th Cir. 1987); Allen, 424 F.2d at 138-39. Petitioner bears the burden of showing exhaustion. See Rust v. Zent, 17 F.3d 155, 160 (6th Cir. 1994). As previously discussed, Petitioner has exhausted his first two claims on direct appeal but the remaining three claims in his motion for relief from judgment have not yet been presented to all levels of the state courts. An applicant has not exhausted available state-court -3- remedies if he has the right under state law to raise, by any available procedure, the question presented. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(c). Petitioner has at least one available procedure by which to raise the issues he has presented in this application. Petitioner has filed a motion for relief from judgment under MICH . CT . R. 6.500 et seq., but the trial court has not yet reached a decision on the motion. If the trial court denies Petitioner s motion, Petitioner must appeal that decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court to exhaust his available state-court remedies. See Duncan, 513 U.S. at 365-66. Accordingly, the Court concludes that Petitioner has at least one available state-court remedy. Because Petitioner has some claims that are exhausted and some that are not, his petition is mixed. Under Rose v. Lundy, 455 U.S. 509, 522 (1982), district courts are directed to dismiss mixed petitions without prejudice in order to allow petitioners to return to state court to exhaust remedies. However, since the habeas statute was amended to impose a one-year statute of limitations on habeas claims, see 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1), dismissal without prejudice often effectively precludes future federal habeas review. This is particularly true after the Supreme Court ruled in Duncan v. Walker, 533 U.S. 167, 181-82 (2001), that the limitations period is not tolled during the pendency of a federal habeas petition. As a result, the Sixth Circuit adopted a stay-andabeyance procedure to be applied to mixed petitions. See Palmer v. Carlton, 276 F.3d 777, 781 (6th Cir. 2002). In Palmer, the Sixth Circuit held that when the dismissal of a mixed petition could jeopardize the timeliness of a subsequent petition, the district court should dismiss only the unexhausted claims and stay further proceedings on the remaining portion until the petitioner has exhausted his claims in the state court. Id.; see also Rhines v. Weber, 544 U.S. 269, 277 (2007) (approving stay-and-abeyance procedure); Griffin v. Rogers, 308 F.3d 647, 652 n.1 (6th Cir. 2002). -4- Petitioner s application is subject to the one-year statute of limitations provided in 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(1). Under § 2244(d)(1)(A), the one-year limitations period runs from the date on which the judgment became final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review. Petitioner appealed his conviction to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court denied his application on January 25, 2013. Petitioner did not petition for certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, though the ninety-day period in which he could have sought review in the United States Supreme Court is counted under § 2244(d)(1)(A). See Bronaugh v. Ohio, 235 F.3d 280, 283 (6th Cir. 2000). The ninety-day period expired on Thursday, April 25, 2013. Accordingly, absent tolling, Petitioner would have one year, until April 25, 2014, in which to file his habeas petition. A properly filed application for state post-conviction review or other state collateral review tolls the statute of limitations during the period the application is pending. See 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). The statute of limitations is tolled from the filing of an application for state post-conviction or other collateral relief until a decision is issued by the state supreme court. Lawrence v. Florida, 549 U.S. 327 (2007). The statute is not tolled during the time that a Petitioner petitions for writ of certiorari in the United Stated Supreme Court. Id. at 332. In the instant case, the statute of limitations was tolled when Petitioner filed his motion for relief from judgment on February 1, 2014. At that time, Petitioner had 83 days remaining in the limitations period. If the trial court denies Petitioner s motion, Petitioner must appeal that decision to the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court to exhaust his available state-court remedies. The statute will remain tolled until the Michigan Supreme Court denies Petitioner s application for leave to appeal. See Carey v. Saffold, 536 U.S. 214, 219-20 (2002) (an application for post-conviction relief remains pending until the application has achieved final resolution through the state s -5- post-conviction procedures). Thereafter, Petitioner will have 83 days to file his application for habeas corpus relief. The Palmer Court has indicated that thirty days is a reasonable amount of time for a petitioner to file a motion for post-conviction relief in state court, and another thirty days is a reasonable amount of time for a petitioner to return to federal court after he has exhausted his statecourt remedies. Palmer, 276 F.3d at 781. See also Griffin, 308 F.3d at 653 (holding that sixty days amounts to a mandatory period of equitable tolling under Palmer).1 Petitioner has already filed a motion for relief from judgment in the trial court and he has more than thirty days remaining in his limitations period to return to federal court after he has exhausted his state-court remedies. Assuming that Petitioner diligently pursues his state-court remedies and promptly returns to this Court after the Michigan Supreme Court issues its decision, he is not in danger of running afoul of the statute of limitations. Therefore a stay of these proceedings is not warranted. Should Petitioner decide not to pursue his unexhausted claims in the state courts, he may file a new petition raising only exhausted claims at any time before the expiration of the limitations period. Conclusion For the foregoing reasons, the Court will dismiss the petition for failure to exhaust available state-court remedies. The Court will also deny Petitioner s motion (docket #2) for a stay of the proceedings. Certificate of Appealability Under 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2), the Court must determine whether a certificate of appealability should be granted. A certificate should issue if Petitioner has demonstrated a 1 The running of the statute of limitations is tolled while a properly filed application for State post-conviction or other collateral review with respect to the pertinent judgment or claim is pending. 28 U.S.C. § 2244(d)(2). -6- substantial showing of a denial of a constitutional right. 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2). This Court s dismissal of Petitioner s action under Rule 4 of the Rules Governing § 2254 Cases is a determination that the habeas action, on its face, lacks sufficient merit to warrant service. It would be highly unlikely for this Court to grant a certificate, thus indicating to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that an issue merits review, when the Court already has determined that the action is so lacking in merit that service is not warranted. See Love v. Butler, 952 F.2d 10 (1st Cir. 1991) (it is somewhat anomalous for the court to summarily dismiss under Rule 4 and grant a certificate); Hendricks v. Vasquez, 908 F.2d 490 (9th Cir. 1990) (requiring reversal where court summarily dismissed under Rule 4 but granted certificate); Dory v. Comm r of Corr., 865 F.2d 44, 46 (2d Cir. 1989) (it was intrinsically contradictory to grant a certificate when habeas action does not warrant service under Rule 4); Williams v. Kullman, 722 F.2d 1048, 1050 n.1 (2d Cir. 1983) (issuing certificate would be inconsistent with a summary dismissal). The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has disapproved the issuance of blanket denials of a certificate of appealability. Murphy v. Ohio, 263 F.3d 466 (6th Cir. 2001). Rather, the district court must engage in a reasoned assessment of each claim to determine whether a certificate is warranted. Id. at 467. Each issue must be considered under the standards set forth by the Supreme Court in Slack v. McDaniel, 529 U.S. 473 (2000). Murphy, 263 F.3d at 467. Consequently, this Court has examined each of Petitioner s claims under the Slack standard. This Court denied Petitioner s application on the procedural ground of lack of exhaustion. Under Slack, 529 U.S. at 484, when a habeas petition is denied on procedural grounds, a certificate of appealability may issue only when the prisoner shows, at least, [1] that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right and [2] that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court -7- was correct in its procedural ruling. Both showings must be made to warrant the grant of a certificate. Id. The Court finds that reasonable jurists could not debate that this Court correctly dismissed the petition on the procedural ground of lack of exhaustion. Where a plain procedural bar is present and the district court is correct to invoke it to dispose of the case, a reasonable jurist could not conclude either that the district court erred in dismissing the petition or that the petitioner should be allowed to proceed further. Id. Therefore, the Court denies Petitioner a certificate of appealability. A Judgment and Order consistent with this Opinion will be entered. Dated: May 8, 2014 /s/ Gordon J. Quist GORDON J. QUIST UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE -8-